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3 Common Electrical Problems to Avoid in Your RV

Photo by photoschmidt via iStock

One of the best things about camping in a motorhome or travel trailer is having electricity to charge up your devices, run your coffee pot, watch your favorite shows, and have air conditioning in the blazing heat of the summer.

But sometimes, common electrical problems can mean that some or all of your electrical components don’t work. That’s precisely what we want to avoid!

Though there are way more problems you might run into with the electrical system in your RV, here are three that I think are the most common – and the easiest to prevent!

Common Electrical Problems to Avoid in Your RV: Dead Batteries

common rv electrical problems dead batteries

Photo by 200mm via iStock

There are all sorts of things that can drain your RV batteries, but the big appliances – the refrigerator, electric water heater, and air conditioning – are the biggest culprits.

Heck, even forgetting to turn off a light or two and letting them stay on all day will have a surprising impact on the charge level of your batteries.

When you’re not connected to shore power or a generator, be cautious about what electrical components you use. This will help you extend how long your batteries will last.

Another component to this is to never drain your AGM batteries. In fact, it’s a good idea to never deplete them beyond 50 percent. If you do, you run the risk of reducing the life of the batteries in the long run, and you might find that you need to replace them in a couple of years. That’s another common electrical problem to avoid!

lithium battery

Personally, I think lithium-ion batteries are the way to go. I have two Briter Products batteries in my Turtleback Expedition trailer that I can drain down to nothing without worry of doing damage to the batteries.

What’s more, they can fully recharge from my truck’s alternator as I’m driving down the road in a matter of a couple of hours. Nice!

Lithium-ion batteries also offer the advantages of having a better depth of discharge (80-90 percent as opposed to 50 percent for AGM batteries). Likewise, they have a longer lifespan – my batteries are rated for up to 5,000 cycles.

briter products build

Lithium-ion batteries are also smaller and lighter, which is key when space is a premium. And in the case of my Briter Products batteries, they come with a five-year unlimited warranty. They’re fully serviceable too, so even after the warranty expires, I can have parts replaced and the batteries reset to get even more life out of them.

The point is that having well-built, reliable batteries is the foundation of your electrical system, and then ensuring that you aren’t needlessly running them down to nothing will prevent you from having to deal with no electricity!

Learn More:

Common Electrical Problems to Avoid in Your RV: Lack of Spare Fuses

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There’s a lot of stuff you need in your RV toolbox, and one of those things is a good set of spare fuses.

Now, I’ve had my current camper for six years and have never blown a fuse, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t blow three of them this summer…

This is a situation of “better to have than to have not.” I’d rather have a box of fuses (which are very inexpensive, by the way) and never have to use it than to blow a fuse, have a down line in the camper, and have no way of fixing the situation.

It goes without saying that a related mistake to this is not knowing where the fuse panel is. If you’re reading this and scratching your head, wondering where the panel is in your RV, take a moment to find out!

Common Electrical Problems to Avoid in Your RV: Not Having a Surge Protector

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Though I boondock now and again, my favorite spot is a Forest Service campground that has electrical hookups. Connecting to shore power means that I can run all my electric gadgets all I want without draining my batteries.

The problem, though, is that some RV parks have pretty antiquated electrical systems that might not be super reliable. That’s where an RV surge protector comes in.

Remember – a power surge can destroy your RV’s electrical system. While RV surge protectors aren’t the cheapest accessory, they’re a lot cheaper than having to redo the entire electrical system in your camper or motorhome. Just be sure you get a surge protector that matches the amperage of your camper – 30A (like the one shown above) or 50A.

So, grab yourself an RV surge protector, a box of fuses, and consider upgrading to lithium-ion batteries as well. Doing so will help you avoid three of the most common electrical problems in RVs!

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